Over the years a Prototypical Man has distinguished himself in his attacks, forcing me to contemplate a feminist construct: sexism.
I’ve been skeptical about its validity in North America, even suggesting in a review of Catharine Mackinnon’s book in The American Conservative that feminists ought to decamp to Darfur. There they’d find the proper context for their theories.
I stand by what I said. Distaff America is not dogged by sexism. So what is one to make of men, mostly of the left-libertarian and liberal variety, who use sex as ad hominem when a woman is concerned?
These puritans are in the habit of deploying the photos on IlanaMercer.com to shame its proprietor. To wit: “Mercer puts up the images; she’s asking for it.” To these solemn commissars, an aesthetic display of the female form signifies that a woman is begging for belittlement.
As a capitalist, I like many aspects of our commercial culture. Contra Virginia Postrel, I don’t like them all (the central thesis of her second book was that all that glitters is gold). But I’m not averse to most aspects of it, including a healthy enjoyment—and commercial exploitation—of the male or female form.
The austere, Soviet-like stance vis-à-vis the female figure and its commercialization is the trademark of feminists and socialists. They oppose what they term the “objectification” of women, but also object to anything that’s fun, free, appealing, and lucrative. In their prissy, sexual rebukes to me, these phony progressives and pseudo-capitalists have sided with backward elements.
Oddly enough, neoconservatives have never lobbed sexual insults at this scribe. When I wrote as though possessed about the war, starting in 2002, I endured unpleasant epithets. These, however, were not sexual. For their part, cultural conservatives tend to be courteous and chivalrous. As for Objectivists: to them Ayn Rand bequeathed a healthy respect for a certain kind of woman.
True, neoconservative readers often demanded that I be fired. Conversely, they counseled that I become more like Ann Coulter.
LA COULTER. My archetypal libertarian attacker will invariably conjure Ms. Coulter. “This is the fatal legacy of Coulter,” writes a paleoconservative gentleman—a fine writer, unencumbered by ego issues—“that ANY female with keen wit and an attitude is now going to be demonized by various, mostly not-too-bright or too secure, left-libertarian males for being a Coulter-wannabe / bimbo / aspiring babe.”
Is that why a flaccid financier from the UK invoked via e-mail the anodyne Coulter comparison? If asked to pinpoint the similarities between Ms. Coulter and the woman who penned “Lethal Weapons: Neocon Groupies,” the bloke would be at a loss. Was it the dark hair? The antiwar stance? Did Ms. Coulter also liken Bush’s “bring ’em on grin” to the grimace “on the face of a demented patient with end-stage syphilis”? Unburdened by fact, and riled by differences he refused to brook, this colossal bore resorted to sexist insults (“what’s the matter; having a bad hair day? Can’t compete with Coulter?”).
BORES. When these Left-libertarians do inflict their piss-poor prose on the public, they tend to be tinny and their insights pedestrian. I’ll take a James Wolcott any time over this uncouth lot. Our versatile—and pompous—sexists are especially good at assuming the duties of High Priests. In the liberty-oriented community, people tend to huddle in atrophying intellectual attics, and quibble about detecting and expelling contrarians. Dare to dissent, and keepers of the flame will take it upon themselves to read you out of the movement. Or, call you a self-styled libertarian (as if I care).
This, naturally, makes for tribalism, not individualism. The bad, moreover, have a nasty habit of crowding out the good. Or as one Objectivist wag once wrote, “Quality is never the result of intellectual purges: the most creative and independent thinkers are the first to go.” That makes perfect psychological sense: those who remain feel more secure, group cohesion having trounced intellectual vitality. In any event, I don’t give a tinker’s toss if I’m “in” or “out.” Being far from the madding crowd has worked just fine for me, so far.
There are many women who bank on their looks to get ahead. If it’s any consolation to The Men From Marx and The Women from Uranus, whose deficiencies compel them to depict me as a vacuous pin-up, my looks, for what they’re worth, have done nothing to popularize my writing. I orbit no closer to Coulter’s comet than when “Creators” first attempted, and failed, to syndicate my column—a column they deemed “too out of the mainstream for comfort.”
©2006 By Ilana Mercer
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